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January 21, 2009

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Sunlight glare prevented driver from seeing banksman

A removal firm has been fined after a worker was crushed between a 17-tonne lorry and a brick wall.

Fox Group (Moving & Storage) Ltd pleaded guilty at Skegness Magistrates’ Court on 14 January to breaching reg. 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and reg. 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £3515 and ordered to pay £2000 costs.

The court heard that the incident occurred on 30 July 2007, on Commercial Road in Louth, Lincolnshire. Two of Fox Group’s employees had been sent to a residential property to remove furniture. When they arrived at the house, one of the workmen, Steven Millward, got out of the lorry and acted as banksman to help the driver reverse into a parking space on the side of the road.

Mr Millward was standing on the driver’s side of the vehicle and was guiding it into a space in between two cars, but, as the lorry was reversing, the driver was blinded by sunlight reflecting in his wing mirror. Consequently, he was unable to see Mr Millward signalling for the vehicle to stop. The lorry carried on reversing and trapped Mr Millward between the trailer and a building wall. He banged on the back of the lorry, which alerted the driver to stop the vehicle. Mr Millward was able to free himself and crossed the road to ask a bystander for help, but once he reached the other side of the road he passed out after suffering breathing difficulties. He was taken to hospital and was kept in overnight to be treated for bruising and a suspected blood clot.

In mitigation, the company highlighted that it had entered an early guilty plea and that this had been an isolated incident. The firm also revealed that it now provides training to all of its banksmen, in order to prevent a similar accident occurring.

HSE inspector, Steve Woods, told SHP: “Sadly, this is an all-too familiar incident in the removals and haulage business. In this case, Mr Millward was fortunate that the lorry stopped and his injuries were not severe, but the risk was there and not dealt with adequately.

“Fox Group should have carried out a suitable risk assessment, which would have highlighted the need for certain control measures. One of these would have been to provide banksmen with proper training. If this had been done, then it is unlikely that the accident would have happened.”

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